J.B. Holmes Shoots Final-Round 70 to Beat Justin Thomas by One Stroke at Riviera Country Club
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Despite starting his final round four strokes behind leader Justin Thomas, the objective for J.B. Holmes was simple: shoot under par and hope the gusting winds, tight fairways and sloped greens at Riviera Country Club would give him a chance down the stretch.
Holmes did his part, firing a 1-under par 70, and as it has so many times in the past the famed course off Capri Drive proved to be difficult to tame. Thomas opened his final round with a birdie, but bogeyed three of the next four and started the back nine with another bogey to drop into a tie. After a birdie at 11, Thomas double bogeyed the 13th to fall one shot behind and from there it was a battle to the finish with Holmes, who calmly drained a two-foot par putt on the 18th hole Sunday afternoon to finish at -14 and win the Genesis Open—his fifth career PGA TOUR victory and first since beating Jordan Spieth and Johnson Wagner in a playoff at the Shell Houston Open in 2015.
In the interview tent afterwards, Holmes talked about the thrilling roller coaster ride on the back nine Sunday.
“Well, you know, we wanted to put on a good show for everybody, so me and Justin thought we’d three-putt a couple times from some short distances,” he joked. “No man, it was real tough on the back side. The wind was really blowing hard, it was hard putting. It was the way you want to win. You want to come down to the end and be able to hit shots and make some key putts. Yeah, it had to be exciting to watch.”
The 36-year-old from Campbellsville, Kentucky pocketed the winner’s share of $1,332,000 and posed for pictures holding the trophy in one arm and his 14-month old son Tucker Bradley in the other. The final groups played 34 holes Sunday because of a seven-hour rain delay Thursday and conditions swung as quickly as the momentum, from morning sunshine to light drizzle to strong gales that led to three two-shot swings on the back nine.
“J.B. won, he played great, but it’s always a bummer to hand him a tournament,” Thomas said. “I feel like I should’ve won that thing but it is what it is and I just have to find a way to learn from it. I really struggled putting in that wind. It was obviously very, very difficult out there. I’m sure the scores showed that.”
Si Woo Kim fired a 5-under to finish alone in third, two shots back.
He is no longer No.1 in the world, but Tiger Woods still draws the biggest crowds
whereever he plays and he had the galleries roaring Saturday evening when he opened his third round with three birdies and an eagle to vault into contention after shooting -1 and even par the first two days to make the cut. He finished Sunday morning with a 6-under par 65 (tied for his second-lowest round at Riviera) and reached -9 midway through his final round before back-to-back bogeys at No. 1 and No. 2 (he started at the 10th tee) ended all hope of notching his first victory at the course where he made his first PGA Tour start as a 16-year-old amateur in 1992.
Woods lost in a playoff to Billy Mayfair in 1998 when the event was played at Valencia Country Club and his best finish at Riviera was a tie for second the next year. At -6 this time, he tied for 15th.
“I got tired, I felt the wind and cold… that’s the way it goes,” said Woods, whose foundation hosted the tournament for the third straight year. “This is where it all started for me, this is the event we all came to. Now to be able to run the event, it’s a dream come true.”
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